BackPack Program receives Solomon Fine Fund Grant
MARTINSBURG — Lisa Henry, executive director of the Berkeley County BackPack Program, got a little teary when she heard the program had been awarded a $15,000 grant from the Solomon Fine Memorial Fund.
“It was a complete surprise –my head’s still spinning,” Henry said after the second annual Eastern West Virginia Community Foundation’s Emeritus Council and Nonprofit Leaders Luncheon Wednesday, during which several grants were awarded. “This $15,000 will buy so many kids’ meals. We feed 600 kids every week and we have a large grocery bill. This will purchase a lot of food.”
The Berkeley County BackPack Program was started in 2010 by Jennifer Yeater, who saw a need at Hedgesville Elementary School for students whose only meal of the day might be their school lunch.
“And it grew from there,” Henry said. “It is an all-volunteer, nonprofit organization. A lot of great people put in a lot of hours, and they’ll be very happy when they hear about this grant.”
The program packs meals for children in grades pre-K through 12, who are on the free breakfast and lunch programs at schools throughout Berkeley County. The volunteers meet on Thursdays to pack lunches for kids for the weekends, holiday breaks and summer vacation, when they are not in school and are not guaranteed a meal.
“If they come to school on Monday hungry, they can’t learn,” Henry said.
Michael Whalton, executive director of the Community Foundation, explained that the grant was unsolicited. It was picked by the foundation’s advisory committee based on the charge of the Solomon Fine Memorial Fund:
“Make an annual distribution to a charitable, religious or civic organization in Martinsburg or Berkeley County, which has, in the opinion of the advisory committee, done the most outstanding work for the betterment of citizens in the area.”
Solomon Fine founded the Consumer’s Fuel Co. in Martinsburg sometime in the 1920s. Fine’s daughter, Frada, continued to operate the business until 2002.
The Solomon Fine Memorial Fund was created in 2005 through a bequest and in cooperation with BB&T Wealth Management.
The Eastern West Virginia Community Foundation manages 62 endowed funds with assets of about $22 million. This year, it will award more than $1.5 million in grants and scholarships.
The Community Foundation awarded seven grants totaling $79,134 at Wednesday’s luncheon, which was dedicated to Joan “Joanie” Roach, who died in December 2016 at age 85.
“Special thanks goes to our founding president Doug Roach and to his family for allowing us to dedicate this year’s luncheon to the memory of our dear friend Joan,” Whalton said. “I promised Doug that I would not sing Joanie’s praises too long or too loud since he reminded me she would not appreciate the hoopla. Suffice it to say that we are all richer having known and worked with Joan. We honor her memory and remarkable legacy of giving.”
To celebrate the 10th anniversary of the foundation’s finance and administration manager, Felicia Fuller, being with the foundation, the foundation’s board allowed her to award $1,000 in grants. She awarded $500 to Friends Fur Life to help provide veterinary care for special needs dogs, and $500 to Morgan County Starting Points to help with the cost of purchasing kitchen equipment and supplies.
Other grants included $500 from the Don and Polly Roach “Friends of Animals” Free Spay and Neuter Fund to the Berkeley County Humane Society; a total of $5,000 from the Joan Roach Volunteer Fund for the Needy and the Unrestricted Endowment for the Community to CCAP Loaves and Fishes; from the Berkeley County Industrial Park Development Fund, $8,000 to Shepherd University-Martinsburg Center, $12,134 to Blue Ridge Community and Technical College and $15,000 to James Rumsey Technical Institute; and $22,500 from the W. Randy Smith Family Fund to Panhandle Home Health’s Bridge Program.
For more information about the Eastern West Virginia Community Foundation, go to www.EWVCF.org.